Donald Trump held a great big bipartisan meeting with members of Congress today to discuss putting formal protections in place to prevent the deportation of undocumented young people who were brought to the US as children. In September, Trump cancelled Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, then immediately turned around and called on Congress to “legalize” DACA recipients. Today’s meeting was supposed to be about how Congress can do that before the program expires in March and young people are subject to deportation. And just look how smart and focused the “president” was:
“This should be a bill of love,” Trump said. “Truly, it should be a bill of love and we can do that.”
He added: “But it also has to be a bill where we are able to secure our border.”
Mr Trump also appeared open to it becoming a bill that is both a floor wax and a dessert topping. At one moment, Trump appeared to agree with California Senator Dianne Feinstein that it would be a good idea to first pass a “clean DACA bill” before going on to deal with “comprehensive immigration reform,” at least until House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke up to remind Trump that that’s not what he wants, not what he wants at all:
Watch President Trump and congressional leaders debate immigration policy pic.twitter.com/QSnhJmhfnF
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) January 9, 2018
TRUMP: I have no problem — I think that’s basically what Dick [Durbin] is saying. We’re going to come out with DACA. We will do DACA and then we can start immediately on phase two which would be comprehensive.
FEINSTEIN: Would you be agreeable to that?
TRUMP: Yeah, I would like to do that. I think a lot of people would like to see that. But I think we have to do DACA first.
MCCARTHY: Mr. President, you need to be clear though. I think what Senator Feinstein’s asking here — when we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. You have to have security, as the secretary would tell you.
TRUMP: But I think that’s what she’s saying.
(MANY VOICES): No, no.
MCCARTHY: No, I think she is saying something different.
And indeed, after the meeting, the White House issued a clarification that when Trump said he’d be OK with a clean DACA bill, he really meant a clean DACA bill that also funds the border wall, ends immigration based on having relatives who are already in the US (what anti-immigration jerks call “chain migration,” because once there’s an anchor baby, you pull in all sorts of garbage from across the sea — and which also just coincidentally has a nice phonic resemblance to “chain gang”), AND puts an end to the awarding of immigration visas via a “diversity lottery” from countries with low immigration rates to the US. So he’s all for a clean DACA bill as long as it’s all loaded up with everything else.
While he was at it, Trump lied again about that lottery program, indicating his mastery of what he wants to believe, if not the facts, repeating his
false claim that countries “give you people that they don’t want, and then we take them out of the lottery” — countries don’t submit lottery entrants, people apply on their own.
Trump also appeared — if you simply go by the words he was saying, which is never a good idea — to be supportive of some potential grand bargain on comprehensive immigration reform, even one that includes a pathway to citizenship for some of the undocumented immigrants still left in the country by the time Congress acts:
“If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat,” Mr. Trump told Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who floated the idea during the meeting in the White House Cabinet Room on Tuesday. “You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.”
Gosh, that sounds encouraging! In fact, said Trump, “We’ll do DACA, and then we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon,” maybe with an “hour break” between the two bills.
Maybe. Because Trump also offered this resolute statement of his principles:
“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump said. “I am very much reliant on the people in this room. I know most of the people on both sides, have a lot of respect for the people on both sides, and what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with.”
In short, Donald Trump would very much like to agree with everyone, because he is a great deal-maker. If what the Republican majority ultimately passes is a secretly written bill, passed without Democratic input, to allow immigration only from the countries of origin of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, well then, that’s what he was in favor of the entire time, and everyone in the White House will agree.
Mental stability expert Bill O’Reilly saw a man in full control of both the meeting agenda and his faculties:
On the other hand, SQUIRREL!